Author: Calic0cat
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Fragments + Chapter 31

When I'd fled from the conversation that I'd been unfortunate enough to overhear, I ducked into the file room, figuring that I could easily kill five or ten minutes pretending to be searching for something. That would give Duo and the others more than enough time to have left for lunch. Then I could go back to our office and try to get sufficiently immersed in work to keep the hurt from showing when Duo returned. As it turned out, I didn't have to spend much time in the file room at all. Une had spotted me as she walked past and requested that I accompany her to her office.

Which was how I'd ended up standing in Une's office fighting desperately to keep my composure as she casually mentioned that she'd decided that perhaps Duo and I would prefer to screen the surveillance from our suite ourselves. Just in case there was anything there that was actually relevant to the case. Though the sections that she and Noin had already checked didn't seem to be. "They seemed rather... personal..." she remarked.

I swallowed hard and tried to get my voice to work. I could not believe that I had completely forgotten about the probable existence of those recordings.

"Unless you would prefer that one of us finish checking the footage?" Une asked, raising one eyebrow.

I scowled and snatched the disks from her hands. "No," I answered abruptly. "I will take care of it." Pivoting, I started towards the door. My cheeks burned at the implication that Une and Noin had seen any of the things that had gone on in the suite. The kissing and cuddling and dancing...


The sharp snap of Une's voice halted me in my tracks and I belatedly realized that I had not been dismissed. "Yes Commander?" I waited with my back towards her, hoping that she wouldn't order me to turn around. I was still fighting to get my expression under control and I knew that my face was flushed with embarrassment.

"I've already spoken to Maxwell. The two of you are going to have to decide whether you're going to be able to put all of - *this* - in perspective and work together again or not. The shooting as well as the - other things. He said that the shooting wasn't an issue but he did not have an answer for me regarding the rest of it. I'll need that answer from both of you by the time that he's ready to go back on regular duty again." Her voice softened a bit as she added, "So think about it, Heero. Talk to him. Figure out whether you're going to be able to continue as partners."

I forced myself to loosen my grip on the disks in my hand; breaking them wouldn't solve anything. "Yes ma'am," I answered flatly. "Will that be all?"

Une sighed heavily - and, I suspected, disappointedly - and told me, "Yes. Dismissed, Yuy."

Silently, I left. As I walked away, I ran my thumb over the surface of the top disk in the thin stack I held. By rights, I should wait until Duo was there too rather than viewing these alone. But I wasn't sure whether I could handle that. At least, not without having watched the footage first. If I knew exactly what was on it, then watched his face while he was viewing it... Maybe I could confirm how he felt about me?

'Or I could make him angry with me if he comes back and catches me watching it alone...' And that was the *last* thing I needed; our relationship was already under severe stress. I didn't need to do something that would make things even worse. If there was more time left before his return, I might risk it but he could be back in as little as half an hour.

Regretfully, I tucked the disks safely into one of my desk drawers and locked it. I didn't want to risk anyone *else* picking those up and finding out what was on them. Too many people knew already as far as I was concerned. And I wasn't exactly looking forward to mentioning them to Duo either now that I'd thought about it a little more. If he was even half as embarrassed as I was by the very existence of these...

I winced and started sorting through some of the files in my inbox. Rather than dwelling on Duo's reaction to the disks, I would try to get some work done before he got back. Then... well, then I'd have to bring the subject up with him. And hope that somehow his reaction to the disks and their contents would give me a better indication of how he felt about me.

And maybe the opportunity that I needed to help me tell him how I felt about him.



I looked at my watch and frowned. Duo was late. *Very* late. I hesitated, then stood. He was supposed to have gone to lunch with Wufei and Sally. I'd just go see whether they were back yet or not. They'd probably just gotten stuck in traffic or something. But I couldn't help worrying; Duo's shoulder had seemed to be bothering him quite a bit this morning. I had to wonder whether perhaps he'd started back to work too soon.

Reaching Sally and Wufei's office, I knocked sharply on the frame of the open door to catch Sally's attention. "Sally? Didn't Duo come back from lunch yet? There's some things we need to go over..."

"Oh, sorry Heero. I didn't know you were waiting for him," Sally answered. "No, we didn't actually end up *having* lunch. I drove Duo home instead. Silly idiot didn't wear his sling this morning. Wufei stayed with him to make sure that he ate, took his painkillers, and rested. Honestly, I don't know what it is with all you Gundam pilots and not taking care of yourselves..." She shook her head in exasperation. "Funny how Wufei will get on Duo's case for not taking care of himself properly when I have to keep getting on *his* case for the same reason!"

The sick knot of guilt that had never completely left me since I made that damn mistake and pulled the trigger got a little bit bigger. I'd never even thought of the fact that Duo probably should have been wearing a sling this morning. And I hadn't realized that his shoulder was bad enough that he needed to go home and rest. I'd been too caught up in worrying about how to tell him that I loved him. So much for my intentions to *show* him how much I cared. Not to mention my offer to help him; I'd been too self-absorbed to even notice that I should have *been* helping him.

At least his best friend apparently wasn't falling down on the job the way that I was.

"Oh. I'll just go ahead and take care of things here myself then..." I offered lamely in response to Sally's expectant gaze. I hesitated, then asked, "Is Wufei staying after work? I'd offered to help Duo with anything his shoulder interfered with but..." But if Wufei was going to be there, my assistance probably wouldn't be needed. Especially if Sally was going to be joining them.

Sally gave me a startled look that turned to a pleased smile. "If you're going by there, then he won't need to. Good." Her eyes sparkled and she added, "Which means that I can pick Wufei up instead of joining them. It would be nice to have the evening to ourselves. But only if you're going to keep Duo company and help out; I promised to change the bedding for him and a few other things."

I managed to give her a small smirk as I assured her, "I'll be there. I'm sure that you and Wufei have - other things you'd rather be doing..."

She choked back a startled laugh and replied, "Oh yes... I'll leave Duo's laundry to you quite happily; I have more - interesting - plans for the evening..."

"I'm sure you do," I told her drily before heading back to my own office.

Well, that changed things. If Duo wasn't coming back this afternoon... I closed the office door and took the surveillance disks out of my drawer. I'd go ahead and watch them myself , then decide what to do with them. And maybe... just maybe... that would turn out to be taking them to Duo's house tonight.

I slid the first disk into the computer. 'Let's see what this whole mess looked like from the outside...'

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